As I live, said the Lord GOD, surely with a mighty hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with fury poured out, will I rule over you:…
As among men, when matters of serious importance have to be determined, there is the employment of a religious oath, in other words, a solemn appeal that God should witness the truthfulness of the parties; so, when God discloses his intentions respecting the destiny of men, he speaks with a view to produce the deepest impression. He stakes his own existence upon the certainty of the event.
I. GOD'S RULE IS DIRECTED SOLELY FOR MAN'S PURITY. Such is his own holiness of nature, that he cannot tolerate impurity of any kind in his kingdom. Or, if he does tolerate it for a season, it is only for the purpose of more effectually purifying his saints. To distribute his own happiness, he created men; but that happiness can only reach perfection when it is rooted in purity. Purity or perdition is the only alternative under the sceptre of Jehovah.
II. THE PLACE APPOINTED FOR THE TEST. "I will bring you into the wilderness of the peoples, and there will I plead with you face to face." Already this had been done in the wilderness of Sinai, and now it shall be done again. This wilderness is not Babylon, nor the desert between Babylon and Judaea. It denotes the isolated condition of the people, when they should be scattered among all the nations. A desert is the outward emblem of man's desolation through sin. Iniquity has made a desert in his heart, in his home, in the nation - a desert in all his surroundings. There, under a sense of his folly and misfortune, God condescends to plead with men.
III. A WINNOWING PROCESS IS TO BE PURSUED. "I will purge out from among you the rebels, and them that transgress against me." If the nation, following its lower passions and following foolish kings, refuse God's salvation, God will deal with them individually. As a nation they shall be destroyed; but an election shall be saved. God will appear as a Thresher, and will purge his floor, and separate the chaff from the wheat. Would that the entire nation had yielded to his righteous rule! Yet, if the majority reject his grace, a minority will accept it. Not a single penitent shall be swept away with the rebellious. Divine wisdom can and will discriminate.
IV. THE OBDURATE SHALL BE ABANDONED. "Go ye, serve ye every one his idols, and hereafter also, if ye will not hearken unto me." Lightly as men may esteem the severity of such a sentence, it is the most crushing doom that can befall them - to be given over to the indulgence of their vices. For God to withdraw the restraints of his grace, and allow them the liberty they crave, would be the heaviest scourge, the beginning of perdition. Said God of Ephraim, "He is joined to his idols: let him alone!" Of some it is declared by Jesus the Christ, "He is guilty of eternal sin."
V. THE PENITENT SHALL RISE TO EMINENT PIETY. (See vers. 40 and 41.) They shall worship again in the consecrated mount. Their offerings shall be spontaneous and abundant. Their gifts and sacrifices shall send a sweet savour Godward. Best of all, they shall find acceptance with God. The Most High will be honoured in their midst. His presence will be felt as a purifying power. "I will be sanctified in you." The remembrance of their past ways and past experiences shall open their eyes to the foulness and loathsomeness of sin. Their inmost tastes and affections shall be refined. Self-condemnation is an essential element in repentance.
VI. THE RESULT WILL BE LARGER ACQUAINTANCE WITH GOD. "Ye shall know that I am the Lord." The manifestation of God's patience, condescension, and tender love will enlarge their conception of God. He will gain a larger place in their esteem and confidence. His true glory will come forth. In this way even human sin will contribute to human elevation; man's guilt will promote God's glory. In the widest sense, "all things shall work together for good." The darkest disaster will serve as a setting for the jewels of God's goodness. - D.
Parallel VersesKJV: As I live, saith the Lord GOD, surely with a mighty hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with fury poured out, will I rule over you: